TXMF hosts naturalization ceremony during American Heroes Celebration

Texas Military Forces, civilian and military attendees of the American Heroes Air Show paid tribute to names on the American Veterans Traveling Vietnam War Memorial on Camp Mabry Saturday, April 16.
In this image released by the Texas Military Forces, civilian and military attendees of the American Heroes Air Show paid tribute to names on the American Veterans Traveling Vietnam War Memorial on Camp Mabry Saturday, April 16. The exhibit was just one part of the AHAS, a decades old event held in Austin to honor veterans and currently serving military members.


 Story by Sgt. Melissa Bright

 AUSTIN, Texas - The Austin Police Department and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services paired with the Texas Military Forces to host a naturalization ceremony April 16, during the American Heroes Celebration at Camp Mabry in  Austin, Texas.

 The ceremony is just one element of the two-day festival that also featured static displays, multiple military  demonstrations and family activities designed to increase awareness within the Austin community of it's substantial  military heritage.

 "This is the second year we have been able to hold this ceremony during American Heroes weekend," said Wuthipong  'Tang' Tantaksinanukij, a corporal with Austin Police Department's Air Operations Unit. "In 2010, Jim Paules invited us to  hold a ceremony here during their American Heroes weekend and we were able to swear-in 13 service members from all  five branches of service. We had double that number this year and hit all branches of service again except for the Coast  Guard."

 Paules, president of the American Heroes Aviation Network, coordinated with the founders of the American Veterans  Traveling Tribute to bring a replica of the Vietnam War Memorial stretching over 380 ft long from end to end to serve as the  backdrop for the ceremony.

"My husband Edmond was in Vietnam in 1968 and again in 1970 to 1971," said Alma Croix as they walked in front of the wall. "I think being able to see this exhibit in Austin is just wonderful."

"The first time we saw the wall in San Antonio I was so overwhelmed," she said. "I couldn't even speak the names of the friends we lost, I had to write them down for the assistants to look up."

The 80 percent-scale replica of the Washington, D.C., Vietnam Memorial Wall displays all 58,253 names of the men and women killed in the Vietnam War.

"It is an honor for us to provide our Vietnam Memorial Wall as the backdrop for members of the military as they recite their oath of allegiance," said Don Allen, executive director of the AVTT and retired U.S. Army Special Forces. 

The AVTT is a veteran-owned project that travels the country to provide a forum for communities to honor, respect and remember those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. 

The wall was the perfect reminder of what it takes to be American for the 25 service members and military one spouse representing 15 different countries sworn in by the Honorable Lee Yeakei, U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Texas.

"I am very excited to be able to do this but today is even more special for me because I was able to do a rubbing of my uncle's name for my mom," said Marine Cpl. Alejandro Mascorro.

"We’re proud to be part of this event at the Texas Military Force’s historic Camp Mabry while we honor all Veterans and those currently serving by letting them know they will never be forgotten," Allen added.

"This is start of my new life," said Army Spc. Jeanette Ponce, with Charlie Company of the 36th Infantry Division in Austin. "I am just so excited to be here today finally fulfilling my dream."

The Adjutant General of Texas hosts Texas Military Forces senior leadership conference

Texas Military Forces, Col. Patrick Hamilton addresses key military and civilian leaders at the JJ Pickle Research Campus, in Austin, Texas, Thursday, April 7.
In this image released by the Texas Military Forces, Col. Patrick Hamilton addresses key military and civilian leaders at the JJ Pickle Research Campus, in Austin, Texas, Thursday, April 7. Hamilton was recently appointed Chief of Staff for Maj. Gen. John Nichols, The Adjutant General of Texas. Nichols had several goals for the event including enhancing interpersonal relationships within the different groups and beginning to address issues that impact the culture and readiness of the TXMF. Representatives came from the Texas State Guard, the Air National Guard, the United States Property and Fiscal Office, several Army National Guard brigade commanders and the office of the TAG.


 Story by Staff Sgt. Melissa Bright 

 AUSTIN, Texas - Coffee cups and presentation packets vied for table space as senior members of the Texas Military  Forces gathered for a two-day information and introduction conference at the JJ Pickle Research Campus with Maj.  Gen. John Nichols, the most recent appointee to the office of the Adjutant General for Texas.

 Attendees of the conference included members of the Texas Army National Guard , Air National Guard and State  Guard, with a cross section of representatives from the officer, enlisted and civilian workforce directly involved with the  Adjutant General’s office. 

 Nichols’ goal for the event was two-fold. First, he wanted to provide an opportunity for interpersonal relationships to  develop, enhancing communication across the services. Second, he sought to open a forum introducing and  addressing issues impacting the culture and readiness of the TXMF.

 “This is an opportunity for each of our groups to calibrate our compasses to be in tune with the vision [Nichols] has for  Texas service members,” said Col. William Hall, Joint Task Force 71 commander. “But also, for each of our groups to be  in tune with each other; to better see how we can support and in turn be supported.”

 Conference planners designed the gathering to function as a relationship-building and advance-planning tool in a  mutually-supportive environment. Each group took the opportunity to present their resources, expertise and potential for  growth while maintaining frankness on limitations and opening the floor for discussion. 

 “One of the greatest advantages our members bring to the table is our passion for volunteerism,” said Maj. Gen. Ray  Peters, commander of the Texas State Guard, as he presented the capabilities and limitations of the no-contract force  that make up the TSG. “To join the State Guard you have to possess a distinct passion to serve, specifically as a selfless  leader.”

 “However,” he continued, “we are faced with true tests as leaders to keep our members engaged without any contractual obligation.”

Conference attendees fulfilled Nichols, few yet substantial goals through a series of break-out sessions and forums where both the officers and enlisted personnel discuss new training programs, the current state of the Texas Military Force as a whole, and new changes in doctrine like the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. 

“When our leadership starts talking policy, how best to create or enforce it, I consider it my highest priority to be in the room,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Broyles, command sergeant major for the Texas Army National Guard. “There are times when the enlisted voice needs to speak up. I use my experience to help guide these talks to increase the chances of a positive outcome for both enlisted and officers.” 

Nichols noted that this casual format enables individuals to spend more time informing themselves on issues and opportunities that exist in support of command and its mission, while allowing ample time to develop crucial personal networks.

“The cross talk that results from having us all here together allows synchronization and development of improved ways ahead,” said Brig. Gen. Joyce L. Stevens, the assistant adjutant general-Army for Texas and commander of the Texas Army National Guard. 

Stevens supervises the operations, training and readiness, and resource allocation for both state and federal missions and serves as the principal advisor to Nichols on all matters concerning the Texas Army National Guard.

Nichols closed out the event by requesting the attendees re-affirm their promise to uphold the values that act as a common bond for the Texas Military Forces.

As one the group stood, raised their right hand and recited the TXMF values that spell out LONE STAR: Loyalty, Opportunity, Networked, Ethics & Excellence, Selfless Service, Texas Spirit, Adaptability and Ready.

19th Regiment Wins Marksmanship Competition, Included teams from the Texas Military Forces

19th Regiment Wins Marksmanship Competition, Included teams from the Texas Military Forces
MAJ Michael Quinn Sullivan, PAO, TXSG
AUSTIN, Texas – Taking top honors in the 30th Annual Texas National Guard Combat Pistol Match was the Texas State Guard’s 19th Regiment Marksmanship Team. This marks the second year in a row that the state guard’s Army component has won the competition.

The Texas National Guard’s Small Arms Readiness and Training Section, a division of Texas Military Forces, conducted the annual Pistol Sustainment Exercise and Competition at Camp Swift near Bastrop on March 19 and 20.

Col. David Erinakes, the 19th Regiment's commanding officer, said the marksmanship team reflects the high standards of the men and women in the Texas State Guard.

“I have great pride in the many members of my unit that understand that selfless service is a key to our success in protecting Texans, and this is a great example of that type of service.”

The winning team included Staff Sgt. Admir Pasalic of Arlington, Sgt. Richard Murphy of Mesquite, Sgt. Sean Mounger of McKinney, and Cpl. Scott Hunt of Dallas. They beat out teams representing various units through the Texas Military Forces. The TXMF includes the Army National Guard, Air National Guard and Texas State Guard.

Capt. Theodore Baroody is the Officer In Charge of the 19th Regiment’s Marksmanship Team. He said the team was selected based on their individual scores in prior competitions last year.

“Just like each guardsman provides his own uniform and transportation, but these four also provide their own weapons and ammunition without any taxpayer dollars involved,” Baroody said.

“They refine their marksmanship skills because of their dedication to their training and pride in representing the 19th and the State Guard. I’m proud of the dedication each man on the team has shown in preparing for this year’s pistol competition.”

Baroody noted that a similar rifle competition is scheduled to be held in May.

The mission of the Texas State Guard is to provide highly trained soldiers for Defense Support to Civil Authorities by providing ready military forces during State Emergences to assist State and local authorities in homeland security, community service and with medical services.

The Texas State Guard is one of three branches of the Texas Military Forces, reporting to The Texas Adjutant General, Major General John Nichols, The Commander-in-Chief of the Texas Military Forces is the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry. The other two branches are the Texas Army National Guard and the Texas Air National Guard.

Lufkin man to walk from Lufkin to Conroe to raise awareness for disease that claimed life of great-nephew

LARISSA GRAHAM/The Lufkin Daily News

Photo of Capt. Allen Rush walking next to the road
Capt. Allen Rush of Lufkin will walk 105 miles from Lufkin to Conroe to raise awareness for the disease that claimed the life of his great-nephew Jack Wolf.Photo by LARISSA GRAHAM/The Lufkin Daily News

LUFKIN, Texas - Starting Friday, a Lufkin man will walk from Lufkin to Conroe to raise awareness for the disease that claimed the life of his great-nephew.

Capt. Allen Rush of the Texas Medical Brigade branch of the Tyler Medical Response Group will walk the 105 miles to raise awareness and funds for the Jack Wolf Foundation, named after Rush’s great-nephew, Jack Wolf IV. Wolf passed away five weeks after his birth from osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease. Over the last five years, the Jack Wolf Foundation has raised about $40,000 for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Hospital and the Empty Arms Ministry in Lufkin through an annual golf tournament at The Links of Westfork in Conroe.

Rush plans to walk the “Jack Jog” in 20-mile increments each day. He’ll be dressed in full gear, including a 20-pound pack that includes three liters of water, an MRE (meal, ready to eat), and other supplies that he might need along the way.

“The Army taught me to be over prepared,” Rush said with a grin. “Even though I’ll be following the road, I’ll have my compass in my pack.”

Rush, a Type I diabetic, will also have a supply of bananas and oranges, to keep his blood sugar under control, and an MP3 player with plenty of upbeat music to keep him going mile after mile.

“I have some classic rock from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, some Celtic bagpipe music, a little hip-hop, and some music from the Texas Aggie Band,” Rush said.

In addition to raising money for the Jack Wolf Foundation, Rush hopes his walk will bring attention to the Texas State Guard and encourage his fellow guard members to get fit.

“I’ve gotten healthier training for this,” Rush said. “And all I’ve been doing is walking.”

Rush called the Jack Jog a personal triumph, both for his health and his diabetes.

“It’s very rewarding to be able to do something for people who can’t do for themselves,” Rush said. “There are a lot of things we can do on a day-to-day basis to help our fellow citizens.”

More information on the Jack Wolf Foundation and the Jack Jog can be found on the foundation’s website at jack-wolf.org

Reprinted with permission, The Lufkin Daily News